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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

One man dies as armed gangs clash amid worsening political tension

Fatal highway crash results in two deaths

Karaoke bar owner strangled by drunken customer

Chinese bank fraudsters extradited from Thailand - again

Rice farmers protest against non-payment for crops

Drunk driver turns out the lights in Mae Hong Son

Army says villagers’ re-education essential in combating opium threat

 

One man dies as armed gangs clash amid worsening political tension

As PM and Cabinet meet in Chiang Mai, escalating violence claims life of local PAD leader’s father

Saksit Meesubkwang/CMM reporters
An escalation in violence over the past few weeks between supporters of the two opposing political factions, the People’s Power Party, (PPP), and the People’s Alliance for Democracy, (PAD), has resulted in the murder last Wednesday of Chetta Jiamkitwattana, father of the leader of the PAD Chiang Mai faction and owner of a small local radio station, Therdsak Jiamkitwattana.

Prime Minister Somchai speaks at the emergency cabinet meeting held at Chiang Mai’s City Hall last Wednesday. (Photo Douglas Morton/APMS)
The murder took place during a confrontation between the two groups at Raming Nives housing estate in Muang district, after around 300 red-shirted members of Rak Chiang Mai 51 had stormed into the estate armed with knives, guns and home-made grenades, to be met by the PAD Chiang Mai group.
A fight ensued, which was unable to be controlled by police, and which resulted in Chetta’s death from stab wounds. Gunshots were heard, with two women reportedly hit and wounded. Witnesses reported that Chetta was attacked by Rak Chiang Mai 51 supporters when he attempted to drive his pick-up truck out of the estate.

People’s Power Party supporters, armed with clubs and sticks, patrol a barrier on the streets of Chiang Mai. (Photo Douglas Morton/APMS)
Earlier on the same day, Rak Chiang Mai 51 government supporters, having heard that PM Somchai would be landing in Chiang Mai, occupied the International Airport grounds with the intention of searching all vehicles entering and leaving. Police were able to disperse them, and it is believed that they then made their way to the Raming Nives housing estate.
Previously, on November 22, the PAD group had released 20 hot-air balloons stencilled with the faces of Thaksin Shinawatra and members of the present government’s cabinet in front of Therdsak Jiamkitwattana’s radio station in Raming Nives. The move was linked with the belief that this action would take away bad luck and force both Thaksin and the present PPP government to give up and go away.
On the same day, 200 members of the pro-government Rak Chiang mai 51 group had surrounded Le Coq d’Or restaurant where the secretary of the Democrat party, Suthep Tueksuban, was attending a wedding, and were searching all cars. Hearing that Suthep had left, the group continued on to congregate outside the Grand Waroros Hotel.
Later, the PAD group’s leader’s home at Raming Nives, which also serves as the group’s headquarters and contains the local radio station used by the protestors, was attacked with eight home-made grenades. Adjacent properties were also damaged, and the police were called. The PAD group’s leader, Therdsak, claimed that the pro-government group were responsible, and attacked local police for not providing him with protection.
The escalating violence between these two local factions finally resulted in death last week, claiming the life of Therdsak’s father.

PAD protestors set off balloons bearing the image of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra in front of Therdsak Jiamkitwattana’s radio station in Raming Nives.

 

Fatal highway crash results in two deaths

Saksit Meesubkwang
A crash on the Chiang Mai- Lampang highway involving a Toyota van and a pick-up truck on the evening of November 25 has resulted in 2 deaths and 8 injuries, at least one of which is serious.

A rescue worker checks the mangled remains of the pick-up truck on the Chiang Mai- Lampang highway.

The Toyota van was transporting workers from Lanna Agro Industry in Lampang to their Chiang Mai homes when it was hit by the pick-up truck and forced off the road. Saraphi police, a rescue team and medical staff attending the scene of the crash found two men, Ploy Paonual (53), and Kanjana Natenoi (37), dead inside the van, with the other 7 occupants injured, including the driver, Sanong Ri-od.
The pick-up truck was found by the side of the road, with its driver, Nopparit Thongdaeng (23), trapped inside and severely injured. He was transported to Theppanya Hospital for treatment. Police have stated that medical staff have checked the alcohol level in both drivers.


Karaoke bar owner strangled by drunken customer

Saksit meesubkwang
Local police were recently called to the Ton Nguen karaoke bar in Tambon Faham by a young boy, where they found a dead woman, Wimonsai Tongsuk (32) and her grieving 10 year-old son.
When questioned, Wimonsai’s son told police that since his parents has separated several years previously, his mother had continued to take care of him and earned a small living by running the karaoke bar.
A 34 year-old Akha man, Somboon Chutong, had been drinking all night at the bar and, after Wimonsai’s other customers had left, a fight broke out between the two that resulted in Wimonsai’s death by strangulation. According to the dead woman’s son, Somboon had returned to the bar around 5 a.m., switched off the lights and locked the door before leaving again on his motorcycle.
Police are searching for the suspect in order to question him about the murder.


Chinese bank fraudsters extradited from Thailand - again

CMM Reporters
A couple living in Chiang Mai were extradited recently for the second time for being the conspirators responsible for China’s second biggest bank fraud to date.
Chen Manxiong, 48, and his wife, Chen Qiuyuan, 46, together with two employees at the Guangdong branch of the Bank of China, had secured fraudulent loans of US$50 million from the bank in the two years between 1993 and 1995. They then fled to Thailand in 2000, where they were identified and arrested in Chiang Mai by Thai police following a request from the Chinese government. The couple had undergone plastic surgery to make their recognition by the authorities more difficult.
The pair were imprisoned in Thailand on immigration and false passport charges, but were extradited to China for the first time in 2002. In 2005, Manxiong was given a life sentence, and his wife 14 years’ imprisonment; however, the couple were sent back to Thailand in 2006 to complete their sentences. Their second, recent extradition is the first under a treaty between China and Thailand and is being seen as an obviously much-needed milestone in exchange and cooperation in the judicial field between the two countries.


Rice farmers protest against non-payment for crops

The disgruntled rice farms negotiate with police on the steps of City Hall.

Saksit Meesubkwang
Rice farmers from Chiang Mai and Lamphun recently gathered in protest at Chiang Mai City Hall to demand increased government purchase of their crops and immediate payment of monies already owed.
More than 100 members of the Northern Farmers’ Association of Chiang Mai, joined by rice framers from Lamphun, completely blocked the entrance to City Hall, demanding payment for crops already delivered and access to more rice buying points. Police successfully negotiated with the protestors to allow access to the government buildings.
The protestors argued for a clear-cut policy for payments, as delay was causing financial hardship and debt for the 150 farmers who have been waiting since June for a payment of 3 million baht from the local rice mill. The provincial authorities also need to list more rice mills in the government-owned project and pay more towards transportation of paddy rice in different areas.
Following the protest, the Governor of Chiang Mai called for an urgent meeting with the provincial rice commission aimed at finding an effective resolution to the protestors’ complaints.


Drunk driver turns out the lights in Mae Hong Son

Khajohn Boonpath
A drunken driver who crashed his car into a roadside electricity pylon on November 22 left the whole of Mae Hong Son city without power for 4 hours.

Sai Bhodi’s offending vehicle, with lights still intact, that caused a total blackout in Mae Hong Son last weekend.

Sai Bhodi (60), a former driver with the Mae Hong Son Provincial Mineral Resources offices, had been drinking heavily before driving his pick-up truck into the pylon, which collapsed and pulled down five more with it. The falling pylons damaged passing vehicles and caused a motorcyclist to crash, breaking his arm.
When police arrived, they found Sai in an extremely drunken state in his truck with just minor injuries to his chest and arm. A blood test taken at Srisangwarn Hospital revealed a count of 300 milligrams of alcohol.
Government offices and nearby buildings were subject to three days without electricity due to necessary repairs to the system. The total damage caused to the pylons, transformers, and vehicles has been assessed at 2 million baht.


Army says villagers’ re-education essential in combating opium threat

Maj. Gen. Wannathip Wongwai talks to the media about the army’s progress in controlling the opium trade.

Saksit Meesubkwang
A meeting was held November 22 at the 7th Artillery Battalions’ headquarters in Mae Rim, focusing on narcotics suppression and chaired by the 3rd Army Region Commander, Maj. Gen. Wannathip Wongwai.
Wannathip stated in his opening address that the first opium destruction project had already started, and would continue until April next year, with a total of 130 rai of land under opium cultivation already cleared. The eradication programme will involve districts ranging from Ta Yong Yang in Tak, to Omkoi and include the Chiang Dao area, with at least 169 rai of opium targeted for destruction.
The Major General also asserted that in the last year the number of opium plantations had decreased. Omkoi district was, however, still a target area for drug smugglers due to the number of unemployed people who were able to be persuaded to grow the crop, he said.
Efforts are being made by the 3rd Army region 3’s drug combating centre to strictly control the situation, and to trace back to its sponsors any plantation found and destroyed. Occupational skills training and education of local Omkoi villagers in the dangers of the drug trade are also solutions to the problems of illegal cultivation.
Wannathip estimates that there are at least 1,000 rai of opium fields in Chiang Mai province, but has confidence that these areas can be controlled and eradicated by the army’s specialist forces.